If like me you are fascinated and disturbed by the decision of Charlotte Lucas to marry Mr Collins in Pride and Prejudice, then you will enjoy The Clergyman’s Wife by Molly Greeley. I felt immediately immersed in Charlotte’s world at Hunsford.
I won’t summarise the background to this novel on the assumption that all readers will be fans of Pride and Prejudice. Suffice to say, this could so easily have slipped into negative territory, negativity about William Collins and Lady Catherine de Bourgh, but Greeley handles Austen’s characters with respect, taking the heritage of Charlotte’s situation and adding a fresh perspective on her future. We see Mr Collins from a new, sympathetic angle, and are given an insight into Charlotte’s decision to marry him, her family’s position and the limited options available to her.
I liked Charlotte extremely, a considered, thoughtful woman, given an impossible choice to make and often put into uncomfortable situations by the crassness of people around her. Charlotte however is not negative, she works out the positive thing to do rather than assign blame.
This is a Regency family drama structured around the meaning of love; all kinds of love, for your spouse, your parents and siblings, as a mother, for the people who are your responsibility, and for yourself. Although Charlotte lives a life constrained by geography, convention and manners, that does not mean she lacks freedom. It is a freedom of imagination, a freedom of the mind. So when she faces a situation which she never believed would befall her, it is a life-changing experience.
A delightful light read, I read it in one sitting in holiday, you most definitely must have read Pride and Prejudice first to get the most from the undercurrent of references. I can’t help but wonder what Jane Austen would think of it.
BUY THE BOOK
If you like this, try:-
‘Miss Austen’ by Gill Hornby
‘The Ballroom’ by Anna Hope
‘The Clockmaker’s Daughter’ by Kate Morton
And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
THE CLERGYMAN’S WIFE by @MollyJGreeley #bookreview https://wp.me/p5gEM4-4sX via @SandraDanby